My wife Kathy is a counselor with specialized training in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and she did her internship at a local veteran's center. As the significant other, I have been exposed to a great deal of pillow talk about the problems of veterans in general and those with PTSD in particular. I also accompanied Kathy to a daylong seminar where the topic was PTSD in war veterans. While all cases are of course different, there are many similarities in their cases. Van Winkle experiences spurts of anger, memory flashbacks that are altered in many ways, he self-medicates in the form of significant alcohol consumption and keeps weapons close at hand. All these are behaviors fairly typical of war veterans suffering from PTSD. What is different about this book is how well Van Winkle describes his experiences, after leaving Iraq he graduated from college as an English major and pursued graduate studies in Wales. He learned those lessons well, his descriptions of combat missions and patrols in Iraq and his relationships with his buddies are told with an understated calm characteristic of the best writers. There are several disturbing aspects to this book; the first is how many places Van Winkle had to go before he receives anything approaching quality treatment for his problems. The second is the realization of how much emotional, psychological and monetary treasure this nation has bled out into the soil of Iraq. These accounts will continue to be settled for decades to come and the cost will continue to be very high.
This troubling memoir of a Marine attempting to live a normal life in the aftermath of a PTSD diagnosis highlights the need for more research into treating this dehabilitating condition. The author survived his tour in Iraq only to return home to a system unable to deal with his now fractured psyche. The memoir is hard to follow- dreams and real life blur, and there is no clear sense of time to give the reader an anchor, but the effect is to plunge the reader into Van Winkle's shifting reality. … more
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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